Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to the US for an official state visit from June 21 to 24, where he will be hosted by US President Joe Biden at the White House.
Are state visits more important?
- This will be his first state visit to the US during his nine-year long reign as prime minister.
- State visits are visits to foreign countries led by a head of state/government, acting in their sovereign capacity.
- They are, therefore, officially described as a “visit of [name of state]” rather than “visit of [name of leader]”.
- State visits to the US only occur on the invitation of the President of the United States, acting in their capacity as the head of state.
- Every visit by a foreign leader is not a state visit.
- State visits are the highest-ranked category of foreign visits with great ceremonial importance and are considered to be the highest expression of friendly bilateral relations.
- In the US, these ceremonies include,
- A flight line ceremony (where the visiting head of state is greeted at the tarmac after landing)
- A 21-gun salute White House arrival ceremony
- A White House dinner
- Exchange of diplomatic gifts
- An invitation to stay at the Blair House (the US President’s guesthouse across the Pennsylvania Avenue)
- Flag streetlining.
- Less important visits are classified (in descending order of magnitude, according to US diplomatic policy) as official visits, official working visits, working visits, guest-of-government visits, and private visits.
- Each of these visits have different protocols to be followed.
|State visits||Other visits|
- While officially and ceremonially, state visits are the most prestigious, for actual diplomatic work, the classification of the visit makes little difference.
- Working visits can accomplish just as much in fostering a healthy relationship with another country as state visits.
- In fact, given the rarity of state visits and the ceremonial functions they bring with them, most work actually gets done in other visits.